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UMaine jumpstarts research on how blueberries react to climate change

Researchers will be taking notes in upcoming years to learn more about Maine's staple.

ORONO, Maine — Researchers at the University of Maine have jumpstarted their research with the aim to hopefully learn more about how blueberry plants respond to a changing climate. 

In partnership with Wyman's Blueberries, rows and rows of the state staple were finally planted last week at the Wyman's Wild Blueberry Research and Innovation Center in Old Town

Separated by genotypes, and marked with colored tape, each plant will undergo different changes to its water intake, air temperature, sun exposure, and more. 

Researchers will also be taking notes on how each change affects the plants' ecosystem services, such as the berries they produce. 

The university's beekeeping club will also play a part in the near future, to see how pollinators affect the bushes. 

Assistant Director Linden Schneider of the Maine Agricultural and Forest Experiment Station said this project has been a year in the making, and they're excited to have their questions answered. 

"How does the one marked with the blue tape differ from the one marked with the green tape when we alter the amount of water they get? Or the ambient air temperature? So, those are all questions that we'll ask," Schneider said. "And how does that impact fruit quality? Or what roles do pollinators play? Or diseases? And we can ask that on the genetic level."

Researchers also have plans to plant even more blueberry bushes this fall for the project. 

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